"Cool, but what is a Food Museum?"
A Food Museum is exactly what it sounds like: a space to learn about food. Weirdly enough, Food Museums and museums that contain food are not that rare. From museums devoted to a certain soda brand or a state's main crop to spaces that celebrate what we eat and drink are scattered across the world. But, of course, the way food appears in these spaces varies widely.
Food has been used in different forms in museums and cultural spaces throughout history, like:
art showing wealth and travel in fruit
displays of cooking and eating utensils
presenting ‘foreign’ cultures
descriptions of nutritional facts and biological functions
historical recipes and cookware
Edible foods were present in some of the earliest forms of museums, with meals even accompanying collections. This then evolved into living history spaces, like Plimoth Plantation, where food is used to show people's daily life.
Though food is present in different ways in all of these settings, food in historical museums and cultural institutions have a legacy of making history and culture come alive.
When I first was thinking of a Food Museum -- thinking about the ways in which it could be a community space, a learning center, a cultural heritage site, and a setting where people could explore the questions they had surrounding food -- I wanted to unite the historical path of food items with the different cultural and personal meanings of food. We each have stories about food. There needs to be a place to tell those stories.
The Museum of Food and Culture is an intentionally participatory museum. Participatory in that we create experiences where people can share their stories about food, history and culture. Through this sharing, we aim to create an experience where we are more similar than we are different.